New Skills You’ll Want to Learn This Year

Frida Kops   ● 10 min read
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The start of a new year is no better time to tackle new projects head on and get in the mindset for success. I cover some new skills you’ll want to learn this year, such as video scripting and applying UTM parameters. But first up, we can’t ignore Apple’s iOS 14 privacy update.

Let’s get started.

Here's this week's roundup:

Facebook Ads and Apple iOS 14 Changes: How to Prepare

Source: Andrea Vahl

This article provides a good summary of what we know about the Apple iOS 14 privacy update and how travel businesses can prepare. There’s been a sense of panic in some camps (largely Facebook) with their recent press release but the fact of the matter is, ALL advertisers are going to be affected – Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tik Tok, YouTube, and Google. 

What’s also important to highlight is that the real battlefront between Apple and Facebook here is for advertising around app installs. Therefore, if you aren’t running ads to drive installs of an iOS app this isn’t going to hurt much.

What is the update?

For those who own an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV and choose to upgrade to iOS 14, they will receive a popup message that requests their permission to be tracked across Apps and Websites owned by other companies.”

The effects of this change for Facebook and Instagram ads
  • Tracking pixel actions from Facebook ads. If people opt out of data tracking, then the ability to track purchases, leads, add to cart and other conversion events will decrease. This doesn’t mean you won’t get leads and bookings from iOS devices, you just won’t be able to track them. We are yet to see how many users choose to opt out. 
  • Ads may not be optimized as well. Again this is dependent on how many people opt out as to how well the Facebook pixel learns.  
  • Retargeting ads. This is unclear still but potentially those visiting your website from an iOS 14 iPhone, iPad or Apple TV won’t get retargeted with your ads.
  • Building audiences. There’ll be a smaller pool of users to build a retargeting or lookalike audience as Facebook won’t receive data from anyone who has come to your website via an Apple iOS device. 
  • App installs. As I previously mentioned, app related conversions will be affected but for the large majority of tour operators who don’t have their own app, this won’t apply.   

What Facebook are changing in response to the iOS 14 update

  1. Conversion ads are affected, but for tour operators this shouldn’t be too bad. Conversion ads will be affected because a tour operator’s product landing page (which your ad sends the user to in order to complete the conversion) is a page away from Facebook.

    I’d advise using your dashboard to
    drill down by device so you can see the proportion of iOS users compared to Android and desktop. This will help you gain perspective as to whether the update will have any noticeable effect for your travel company
  2. The number of tracking events you can have on Facebook will change. Facebook have now limited this to a maximum of 8 events per domain. This article suggests that be proactive with this by deciding which of your events are the most important.
  3. Conversion windows will shorten. These conversion windows will be tracked on Facebook:
  • 1 day click
  • 7 day click (default)
  • 1 day click and 1 day view
  • 7 day click and 1 day view. Therefore we lose the 28 day conversion window, but you can use Google UTM links or other methods to back up your tracking. More on this later.

Tip: Compare your historic click conversion data for 28 day and 7 day (which you can download). This will help you understand how your reported conversions will be impacted if you currently use a 28 day conversion window.

Next Steps

For now, my advice to travel companies is to take the recommended steps outlined in this article, but the key one to focus on is ensuring your domain has been verified by Facebook so that the Facebook pixel will still work. 

How to set up domain verification for Facebook

Read the full article here for the step-by-step instructions on how to signal to Facebook that a) you have control over your domain, and b) your domain is connected to your Business Manager.

Ultimately, there are too many unknowns as it stands to warrant any rash decisions. Also, to put things into perspective, this will only impact those Apple users who upgrade to iOS 14 on their iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. It does not affect desktop devices, or Android devices which own 73% of market share. It also doesn’t affect those who choose not to opt out, which may be more than we think.

The Importance of Working with Media Now More Than Ever

Have you ever considered asking a travel influencer or content creator to join one of your tours? 

There are many benefits to working with the media this year (and this article provides seven of them). 

Not only are they eager to travel and work again, but an influencer’s social media channel provides the opportunity to showcase your tours and health and safety protocols to your target audience at home. 

And that’s exactly the type of opportunity that Steve Markle, the marketing manager at OARS, saw too.

“This year, while we were glad to have the opportunity to run trips during the second half of our season, there was obviously a lot more volatility. When space opened up on some of our fall trips, we figured it would be good to get a few writers out to help spread the word about our ability to run river trips during a pandemic,” explained Steve.

Reasons why now is a good time for tour operators to work with media

  1. The media want to work and travel again. Many travel content creators and influencers are ready and eager to travel before the general public. By working in tandem with the media, travel companies can ensure they are top of mind when everyone travels again, especially if writers are reporting on how COVID safe a trip is.
  2. Let your safety protocols shine. As mentioned above, your COVID health and safety protocols is a newsworthy topic for the media to report on. This is exactly what travellers want to know. So if this is the particular angle your travel company wants to take and showcase, then ensure these conversations are had at the outset when contacting content creators to join one of your tours.
  3. The pandemic has resulted in more people on social media than ever before. Instagram usage has increased by 40% since the beginning of COVID. A tactic for tour operators to stay front of mind with their Instagram followers is by seeking out content creators/influencers/writers who also have a large following and are active contributors to the platform. It means that the content they share can easily be reposted and tagged on your feed also. At OARS, Steve Markle coordinated with his writer to add a swipe up function on Instagram for those interested in a Grand Canyon trip.
  4. A travel influencer’s audience trusts them. Making it a perfect opportunity for tour operators to tap into that trust. An influencer’s followers will be watching where and what companies they choose to travel with and will likely follow their lead.
  5. Word travels fast. Unlike magazine or newspaper editorials, a travel influencer’s content goes out almost instantly. Insta stories will happen in real time and a blog will likely go out within a week of the trip. This means travel companies who work with this type of media can easily get ahead of their competitors.
  6. The voice of a person is stronger than that of a brand. Authenticity and trust are hugely important these days so seek out content creators who embody that ethos too. People are more inclined to trust an article from a blogger who weaves their personality and opinions into their writing, and posts it on their own channels, over the same article posted on a company Facebook page. Travel companies could consider putting money behind their writer’s article or post to boost its engagement and reach.
  7. Take advantage of lower prices. Some travel influencers and writers are lowering their fees during the pandemic so now is the time to take advantage and negotiate.


Have you worked with travel influencers before? What was your experience?

The 2021 Outlook For Tours & Activities In 4 Charts

In terms of US travellers, this article makes a firm case for targeting households earning $100,000 or more. This is because the financial impact of the pandemic has unfortunately fallen “disproportionately on lower-paying service jobs.” 

By comparison, households earning at least $100,000 make up 43% of active travellers and spend on average almost $4,000 per trip, with many having more disposable income than ever before due to the pandemic. 

The bottom line according to this article? When recovery happens, it could happen fast. 

The research that supports this is from Arival’s survey of 1,000 U.S. travellers who booked a tour, event, activity or attraction in 2019. Arival identifies this segment as “active travellers.”

They identified 4 key insights from this research that predict the behaviour of this segment in 2021.

1) Travel companies should target households earning $100,000 or more

As mentioned above, these upper-income households have more disposable income as a result of being unable to travel during the pandemic. They make up 43% of active travellers.

2) Upper-income households go on more trips

In 2019, active travellers who earn $100,000 or more went on 4.6 trips vs. just 3.7 for those earning between $50,000 and $100,000.

3) Upper income households spend more

On average they spend $4,000 per trip vs. $2,700 for those earning between $50,000 and $100,000.

4) Upper income households account for a larger share of the travel market

50% of all trips are taken by this segment of traveller with 62% of all trip spend being spent by them also.

How many meaningful conversations are you having with this U.S. travel segment of high earners? Do you feel your tour operator business is front of their mind?

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Here are my top-tip articles:

The Ultimate Guide to Using UTM Parameters

Source: Neil Patel

In light of Apple’s new privacy updates, understanding how to use UTM parameters to track your marketing campaigns is a good idea for tour operators. 

If you’ve never used them before, UTM parameters are tags that you add to the end of a URL which feeds data into your Google Analytics. It’s how you can monitor which of your campaigns drives the most traffic to your site.

This guide explains why these tags are necessary, best practices and how to create them using Google’s URL builder (hint: it’s very simple, the key is to be consistent).

Useful places to use UTM parameters

  • Social media links – to help you analyse how effective social media platforms are at driving traffic to your website
  • Email newsletters – to help you analyse how much readers engage with your emails and how well your CTA buttons perform. 
  • Banner adverts – to help you analyse how well your paid marketing performs if you have any variants for banner placement, design, size, colour and banner types.

How Xanterra is Standing Out in a ‘Sea of Sameness’

This article focuses on the cruise sector but, nevertheless, the 5 steps to standing out this year are applicable to the travel industry as a whole. 

  1. Maximise the use of external sources to determine consumer sentiment.
    This means keeping abreast of the news and vaccine rollout, of course, but also drilling down on what your target audience is saying on social media.
  2. Avoid focussing too heavily on short term solutions.
    For example, domestic tourism will be the first to recover but wanderlust will return with travellers reverting back to international trips.
  3. Understand tour bookings and scrutinize activity on social platforms.
    Again, understanding consumer sentiment is crucial for knowing when and how to pivot your travel business. Are users posting negative, positive or neutral comments in relation to travel? Use this valuable information to feed into your messaging and tone of voice. Similarly, note what customers are enquiring about when looking to book with you. What are the FAQs?
  4. Cut through the noise.
    Every travel company will be keen to share their new health and safety protocol with their customers. In order to break through the wall of same, consider how you can differentiate the message. For example a simple text-to-video format could work really well to stand out. Virgin Voyages health and safety video does just that. Keep reading to learn how you can master video scripting to create this type of video.
  5.  Make your resources work harder.
    Marketing budgets were the first to be cut during the pandemic and although they may still be at an all time low, that’s exactly why being creative is necessary. Travel companies ought to look first to their existing resources in order to squeeze the most out of them. Can your email marketing software help you segment your audience to deliver targeted campaigns? If you’ve never tried segmentation then now is the time.

How to Script Videos for Social Media in 5 Steps

“Text on screen” videos can be highly engaging when done right because they weave a story without the viewer ever having to tap for sound.

This article provides helpful guidance on video scripting for Facebook or Instagram videos. When you implement the steps detailed below, always check (and check again) that your script is conversational. Losing the formal tone is the fastest way to be relatable.

Begin with the hook

This article provides helpful guidance on video scripting for Facebook or Instagram videos. When you implement the steps detailed below, always check (and check again) that your script is conversational. Losing the formal tone is the fastest way to be relatable.

Next up, your most shareable piece of information

In social videos, you don’t want to save the best for last. Your most shareable piece of information should come immediately after the hook. 

Things you can include:

  • A story
  • A tip
  • A hack.

The body of the story

The third step is to provide historical context to the story you’re telling in the video. Keep things short and bear in mind that the entire video will only be about a minute long.

Add value, and then some

The key is to over-deliver on value to grab your viewers attention. What can you say in a sentence or two that your target audience will appreciate?

Provide a call to action

Your call to action comes at the end of the video. What do you want the viewer to do after watching your video? Go to your website? View another video? Read an article? State this clearly so there is no room for hesitation.

If the above steps leave you eager to learn more (and hands up for being a little biased here), then I think you’ll be interested in what we teach on the Tour Operator Accelerator™ program. Click the link and scroll down to the course content where you’ll see that in Week 5 we provide step-by-step video tutorials on how to create captioned video ads (aka video scripting) that’s proven hugely successful for travel businesses just like yours. Just saying…


A statistic I found interesting:

 The overall income for Americans (after tax) between March – September 2020 was over $1 trillion higher than in 2019. (Arival)

A question for you:

Aside from bookings, what are your business goals for 2021?

Share your thoughts and comments on our Facebook and Linkedin page.

Did you enjoy reading the above?

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